Oldest evidence of life on Earth found

Scientists have discovered rare, living specimens of stromatolites the oldest evidence of life on Earth deep within a remote, protected World Heritage Area in Australia. This is an exciting discovery because living stromatolites were previously unknown from Tasmania, said Bernadette Proemse from University of Tasmania.

The find has proved doubly interesting because closer examination revealed that these spring mounds were partly built of living stromatolites. Fossil stromatolites are the oldest evidence for life on Earth they first appeared 3.7 billion years ago. DNA analysis indicates that the Tasmanian stromatolites are micro-organism communities which differ from all other known stromatolites.

The discovery provides clues why stromatolites thrived for millions of years but then virtually disappeared from all but a few exceptional places on Earth. The researchers believe that the highly mineralised water flowing from spring mounds is a critical factor in the ability of the stromatolites to survive.

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